Sunday, 29 March 2009

Jobs, Justice, Climate

Further video >>> here.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Trade unions to G20: Half measures will not fix broken global economy

In a worldwide push for action by G20 governments to pull the global economy out of recession and chart a new course for job creation, financial regulation and global governance, trade unions across the world have delivered a common set of demands to their national governments. The five-point union plan, which includes detailed policy proposals, sets out the actions needed to tackle the crisis and build a fairer and more sustainable world economy for the future. It calls for:

* a coordinated international recovery and sustainable growth plan to create jobs and ensure public investment;
* nationalisation of insolvent banks and new financial regulations;
* action to combat the risk of wage deflation and reverse decades of increasing inequality;
* far-reaching action on climate change;
* a new international legal framework to regulate the global economy along with reform of the global financial and economic institutions (IMF, World Bank, OECD, WTO).

The Global Unions G20 London Declaration, developed by the ITUC and the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) at the OECD, sets out the steps which need to be taken by the G20 in cooperation with other governments. It was presented by national trade union movements to their governments, and will be formally submitted to the G20 Leaders’ Summit in London on 2 April. Trade unions from around the world are also joining their colleagues from the British TUC in a huge civil society mobilisation planned for London on 28 March, to press home the need for coordinated global action by governments.

Recovery and sustainable growth can be achieved, according to the Declaration, but only if the focus is on job creation and public investment, active labour market policies, extending social safety nets and special measures for developing and emerging economies. The trade unions also put forward an eight-point specific action plan for global financial regulation, with immediate action to nationalise insolvent banks.

The London Declaration points to the real risk of wage deflation, and highlights the fact that growing income inequality across the world has been a major contributor to the current recession, as workers’ purchasing power has been insufficient to help maintain demand for goods and services. Ensuring that all workers have the right to collective bargaining, and strengthening wage-setting institutions, will establish a decent floor in labour markets and feed economic stimulus through more household buying power. This is closely linked to the broader requirement for reform of the IMF, World Bank, WTO and OECD, with the inclusion of the International Labour Organisation at the centre of an effective and accountable system of global governance.

The union proposals also focus on the urgent need for impetus to tackle climate change, given the enormous environmental, social and economic costs of inaction. Already, governments should be using coordinated global fiscal response to the economic crisis to set the world on a “green economy” path. Creation of green jobs, and action to ensure “just transition” in communities and sectors affected by the move to environmentally-friendly production, are central to achieving the levels of greenhouse gas reduction needed, and will contribute to pulling the world out of recession.

The declaration is available >>> here.

Subprime Carbon report points to dangers of unregulated carbon markets

If it is not structured properly, global warming legislation could lead to the creation of an enormous, poorly regulated derivatives market with failures mirroring those that led to the current financial crisis, according to a report released by Friends of the Earth US. The report, Subprime Carbon? Re-thinking the World’s Largest New Derivatives Market, finds that existing financial regulations, as well as those in major cap- and-trade bills, are inadequate to govern carbon trading, creating a potentially huge regulatory gap.

“Global warming has reached a crisis point, and it’s imperative that Congress move quickly to put solutions in place, but it’s also important to be careful and do this the right way from the start,” said Michelle Chan, a senior policy analyst at Friends of the Earth and the author of the report. “If we aren’t careful, we could end up creating a massive, poorly regulated derivatives market that not only poses risks to the broader financial markets, but also undermines efforts to save the climate.”

The report outlines how lessons from the current financial crisis apply to carbon markets, which could become the largest derivatives markets in the world. In particular, it raises concerns about “subprime carbon,” risky carbon credits based on uncompleted offset projects (projects designed to sequester or reduce greenhouse gases). Subprime carbon credits may ultimately fail to reduce greenhouse gases and, like subprime mortgages, could collapse in value, yet they are already being securitized and resold in secondary markets. The report recommends that lawmakers include carbon trading in current debates about financial reform, and warns against hastily creating carbon markets without proper oversight.

The full report can be viewed >>> here.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

World Water Forum: Turkey deports International Rivers' staff after peaceful protest

Two International Rivers' staff members were arrested and detained yesterday for unfurling a banner at the opening ceremony of the World Water Forum (WWF) in Istanbul. They will be deported this morning or face a year in Turkish prison. As the opening ceremony of the WWF began, International Rivers' South Asia Director Ann-Kathrin Schneider and Climate Campaigner Payal Parekh unfurled a banner reading "No Risky Dams" in protest at the World Water Forum's promotion of destructive dams (see photo). They shouted slogans as the chair of the World Water Forum and government dignitaries were about to take the stage.

While many WWF participants applauded the protest, the police detained the two protestors. Meanwhile, outside the conference center riot police used water cannons and tear gas against 150 peaceful protestors who shouted "water for life, not for profit" in opposition to the WWF's agenda of water privatization and river destruction. Seventeen protestors were arrested.

As she was being detained, Payal Parekh said: "Large dams have left a legacy of lies and loss. Continuing to build destructive dams will bring unacceptable risks to people and the planet." Ann-Kathrin Schneider said as she unfurled the banner: "The Ilisu Dam in Southeast Turkey is a symbol of outmoded water and energy policies which destroy communities and the environment. We call on the participants of the World Water Forum to embrace smarter and cleaner solutions which are readily available." Peter Bosshard, International Rivers Policy Director, said "The response by the Turkish authorities highlights the undemocratic nature of the World Water Forum. Two protestors being deported for unfurling a banner is unacceptable. We call on the World Water Council to respect and support the rights of all people to speak freely and protest peacefully."

The World Water Forum takes place every three years. It is organized by the World Water Council, a private organization whose most influential members are private water companies and some of the world's biggest dam construction companies, funders and government agencies.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Women call for a future based on alternatives to the current mainstream economic system

8 March, the International Women’s day is an occasion for women all over the world to celebrate and to unite for social and gender justice, environmental sustainability, peace and equality and make their voices heard. “We are in the midst of the most serious crises since decades. The lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of women and men, girls and boys worldwide are threatened by the complex set of the financial, economic, energy, food, climate, and inequality crisis”, the Brussels based Women in Development Europe network (WIDE) says in a statement. WIDE is deeply concerned that again women will have to carry the major burden of this multiple crises: indeed, prior economic crisis in Latin America and in Asia in the 1990’s, have largely affected women and children by increased unemployment and decreased household incomes, cuts in government costs on social services and most of all additional reproductive and unpaid care work.

WIDE believes that the current financial and economic crisis signals the failure of the mainstream economic system - that favours large capital interests at the expense of people's lives and sustainable livelihoods - to respond to the enormous global challenges. WIDE understands current situation as an opportunity to call for a change of the unsustainable, gender-blind economic development system that is built on women’s subordination. In this context, WIDE urges the international community:

* to promote people–centered sustainable development including empowerment of women, social justice and equality as well as an equal distribution of resources;
* to acknowledge and value in economic terms the unpaid and invisible care work and contribution of women to economic and social development as being essential for the reproduction of the labour force and the well-being of societies;
* to pursue a truly cooperative and participatory solution to the current systemic crisis where all countries are able to voice the concerns of their most vulnerable groups;
* to increase political and financial support to women’s networks and organizations working for social, economic and political change in the South, East and West.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

EU climate approach puts world’s poorest people at peril

EU Environment Ministers have failed to live up to repeated promises to fight climate change. They have called on poor countries to curb their emissions, but have not put cash on the table to help them deal with the effects of the crisis or develop in a low carbon way. Following a proposal from the European Commission in January, the EU will agree the key elements of its position for a global climate deal in Copenhagen at a Heads of State summit on 19-20 March in Brussels. Climate finance for developing countries, which is a make-or-break part of the deal, is supposed to be the main focus. But Member States have used the economic crisis as an excuse to further water down the Commission’s already weak plans on finance. Environment Ministers have admitted on 2 March the huge costs involved, but not agreed how the money will be raised globally, or what the EU will commit.

The lives and livelihoods of millions of poor people are at stake from worsening climate change, created by rich countries. Oxfam International estimates that at least €40bn a year is needed to help poor countries adapt to the impact of global warming – with the EU owing at least €12bn. This is a fraction of the $3.3trn committed by the EU and the US to rescue financial institutions in 2008. Katia Maia, head of Oxfam International’s Campaign and Advocacy Office in Brazil, said: “The latest science shows the climate crisis is more urgent than ever but the EU is putting the brakes on efforts to address it. Europe is one of the world’s biggest polluters but it is doing as little as possible to help poor countries deal with the impacts of a crisis it helped create. The EU needs to put money on the table now. Treating poor people's lives as a bargaining tool in climate negotiations is both immoral and misguided as a negotiating strategy.”

Elise Ford, head of Oxfam International’s EU office, said: “It is now up to EU Finance Ministers and Heads of State to right these wrongs later this month. They must give strong backing for innovative finance mechanisms, so these are at the heart of Europe’s negotiating position for Copenhagen. The excuse of waiting for the US to move first on climate finance is wrong-headed. As EU Commissioner Dimas pointed out, if the EU does not offer real cash, there may be no global deal. And, unless there is a clear EU commitment, there will be little external pressure for the US also to come forward - as it must."